Friday, March 25, 2016

Easter Parade

For years now, New Orleans has been having a gay-related social event called the Easter Parade. But this has nothing to do with that.  This is all about The Judy.   In more closeted times, gays used the term "friend of Dorothy" to refer to themselves in mixed company, in homage to Garland's role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Today, Garland isn't as well known among the younger gay generation, but she still holds a special place in the hearts of many. 


Judy Garland was hugely popular among gays during her lifetime. Her concerts were major gay meeting places, and in her later years, she made money singing at gay piano bars. Garland's father was gay, as were her studio-executive mentor and two of her five husbands. She had many gay friends and went to parties where she joked that she was the only woman present. But her appeal was based on more than her own acceptance of gays. 


Both onscreen and off, Garland projected a unique combination of vulnerability and strength. She sang of intense loneliness, followed by songs describing delirious love. She had legendary stage fright but declared her greatest happiness came from performing. These conflicts mirrored the lives of oppressed, closeted gay men in the 1950s and 1960s. They identified with the paradox and duplicity in Garland's life. Severe laws and prejudice against homosexuality forced gays to lead double lives and hide their true selves. 

As Dorothy, Judy Garland portrayed a misunderstood kid from a small town who has an amazing adventure in a Technicolor world. The central message of The Wizard of Oz is that you will find what you're looking for inside yourself. That message resonated with gays of the era who yearned to come out into a colorful world and live what was inside of them. 
While prejudice against gays is still common, the public is generally more tolerant these days. Homosexuals aren't as strictly closeted as in Garland's day, and her image doesn't strike such a deep chord. But her plucky strength and sweetness continue to win admirers among people of all orientations.
MGM, 1948, Color, 104 minutes

Produced by: Arthur Freed
Directed by: Charles Walters
Screen Play by: Sidney Sheldon, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
Lyrics and Music by: Irving Berlin
Musical Numbers Staged and Directed by: Robert Alton
Music Direction: Johnny Green
Orchestration: Conrad Salinger, Van Cleave, Leo Arnaud
Set Decorations: Edwin B. Willis
Women's Costumes by: Irene
Men's Costumes by: Valles

Color by Technicolor

Cast:
Judy Garland (Hannah Brown),
Fred Astaire (Don Hewes),
Peter Lawford (Jonathan Harrow III),
Ann Miller (Nadine Gale),
Jules Munshin (Francois, the Head Waiter)



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